Preston Station - Past & Present
The WLR - Penwortham

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pic1A glorious summer afternoon on 13th July 1963 and Stanier 2-6-4 tank No. 42494 rolls into Penwortham [Cop Lane] with the 17-30 Preston - Southport, collecting some late day-trippers that the fine weather has apparently brought out.
(c) Alan Castle 13th July 1963

pic2Last train of the day at Penwortham [Cop Lane] on a December evening in 1964, the 23-20 (SO) Southport - Preston, disgorges onto the wooden platforms a small group of revellers, returning to their beds after a night-out in the hot-spots of Southport. Within a few short weeks, they will discover, to their eternal regret, that the alternative bus service to be offered by Ribble Motors Ltd is to provide nowhere near such a convenient facility, particularly at such a late hour as this. Fares will also soon start to rise dramatically. At this time, by train, a day-return ticket to Southport is 3/6d (17½p). In the opposite direction, the day return fare to Preston amounts to the princely sum of 7d (3p)!
(c) Alan Castle 28th December 1963

pic3Only three days to go until the very end and the local Cop Lane Station fan club are intent upon giving the railway a fitting send-off. The station originally was known as Cop Lane Halt when it was opened by the L&YR in 1911 and this massive wooden nameboard bearing the present name dates from LMS days. Similar structures still exist at this time at New Longton & Hutton, Longton Bridge and Hoole, these being much admired by the more discerning and appreciative traveller whose journey pauses alongside.
(c) Alan Castle 3rd September 1964
pic4The nameboard from Penwortham [Cop Lane] seen en-route to a more respectable retirement than was to befall the remainder of the station. Penwortham was not one of the original WLR structures, only being opened by the L&YR in 1911, as Cop Lane Halt, to serve the rapidly developing suburb of Penwortham. Although its actual age is uncertain, this item is very clearly of LMS manufacture, being a typical example of the running-in boards that survived to the end at all stations north of Hundred End.
(c) Alan Castle 3rd September 1964
pic5The scene of destruction at Penwortham [Cop Lane] on 16th January 1965, only 19 weeks after the passage of the last train. Due to the high fire risk from the all-timber construction, official vandalism has preceded that which almost certainly would have followed to decide the closed station's ultimate fate. Today, of course, here sprawl the expansive lanes of the Penwortham By-pass road, all traces that a railway ever ran here having been totally and very efficiently obliterated.
(c) Alan Castle 16th January 1965
pic6Another view of the sorry sigt at Cop Lane just weeks after the closure of the line.
(c) Alan Castle 16th January 1965
pic7Although prolific on other routes in the Southport and Preston areas by this time - and particularly so in East Lancashire - no diesels of any description were ever used on regular service trains over the WLR. Occasionally, DMUs and Brush Type 2s sporadically appeared on inter-regional excursions, these mainly originating in Yorkshire, but even this was a relatively rare occurrence. On Sunday, 9th August 1964, a Scottish Region 6-car 'Swindon Inter-City' unit, a type more accustomed to the hilly road from Glasgow to Stranraer, was utilised throughout for a day excursion from Ayr to Southport Chapel Street, organised in connection with the “Kilmarnock Grozet Fair”. With passengers fully appraised of the delights that Southport has to offer, this view shows them back on board again and the train making good headway on its lengthy return journey home, here seen passing non-stop through the platforms of Penwortham [Cop Lane].
(c) Alan Castle 9th August 1964
pic8Fairburn 2-6-4T No. 42158, which has been at Lostock Hall since new and a mainstay of passenger services on the WLR, draws to a halt at Penwortham [Cop lane] with the 10-12 Preston -Southport in order to collect a handful of waiting seaside excursionists. Note the lengthier than usual rake of stock, at times desirable during peak summer periods like today, even 'though the line has only three weeks to live!
(c) Alan Castle 16th August 1964
pic9A bright sunny summer Sunday morning and a dozen or so day-trippers intent upon an outing to the seaside are regarded with envy by the crew of Lostock Hall's Fairburn 2-6-4T No. 42158 as it draws the 6 coaches of the 10-12 Preston - Southport alongside the wooden platform.
(c) Alan Castle 21st August 1964
pic10On this occasion with no custom to offer, Penwortham [Cop Lane]'s long-serving and very amenable porter-cum-ticket clerk, Mr. Frank Taylor, awaits the arrival of the 18-12 commuter service from Preston to Southport. Cop Lane, like Longton Bridge, comes under the control of the station master at New Longton & Hutton and, in the deep cutting well below the public highway, the single member of staff on duty here may well have come to feel particularly isolated. Frank, however, lived close to Middleforth Junction, a short distance away and, there being no electricity supply in the booking office, in the sometimes lengthy intervals between trains found it extremely convenient to nip home on his motor-cycle for a crafty cuppa. Indeed, there were occasions in his absence when the photographer (who had become a close friend) was deputised to collect tickets on his behalf from any descending passengers! As a consequence of this, it can now be revealed after the passage of so much time that that person now has a ticket collection to be admired !

Frank's next appointment wasn't so close to hand - being at the (almost as isolated) Hoscar, on the Southport - Wigan line. He did, however, now have the luxury of an electricity supply at his place of work! Frank was soon to retire, however, managing to secure a former crossing keeper's cottage between Bamber Bridge and Hoghton and this was where he is believed to have spent his last days.
(c) Alan Castle 22nd August 1964

pic11A damp misty evening on 2nd September 1964 and with only 4 days to go before closure, the rows of ex L&Y oil lamps standing on the wooden platforms of Penwortham [Cop Lane] are the only visible items to greet the 18-35 Southport - Preston, as its 3 ex-LMS non-corridor coaches grind slowly to a halt behind Lostock Hall's tender-first BR Standard 2MT 2-6-0 No. 78041. It might be observed that the single post-nationalisation item to be seen in this view is the locomotive itself!
(c) Alan Castle 2nd September 1964
pic12The very last day and Lostock Hall's BR Standard 2MT 2-6-0 No. 78041 has recruited a more than usual crowd of admirers (on both platforms) as it rolls slowly to a halt at Penwortham [Cop Lane] with the 14-34 Preston - Southport.
(c) Alan Castle 6th September 1964
pic13One can almost hear the bees buzzing and the birds singing in the grass-lined cutting at Penwortham [Cop Lane] on this balmy summer morning as Lostock Hall's unkempt Fairburn 2-6-4T No. 42286 clears its cylinders, disturbing the solitude, and slowly accelerates away up the gradient the 10-12 Preston - Southport, laden with day-trippers to the seaside.
(c) Alan Castle 9th August 1964

pic14Having already propelled the 5 ex-LMS coaches forming the RCTS "Mid Lancs Railtour" over the tracks to the right up from Preston [West Lancs Goods], original terminus of the West Lancashire Railway, former LNWR "Super D" 0-8-0 No. 49451 has reversed direction and is now seen about to traverse the short section towards Whitehouse South Junction. Penwortham Junction is a ground-frame that has been operated by the guard, the point locks being released electrically by the signalman on duty at Whitehouse West Junction. The train will now continue along former East Lancs Railway tracks through Todd Lane Junction, before turning right through Lostock Hall and onto LNW tracks proper at Farington Curve Junction completing a full circle in order to head north again towards another long-closed passenger terminus, that at Longridge.

During the course of this circuitous journey, No. 49451 and its passengers will cross by bridge over that part of the Southport line that they have just traversed only some 20 minutes or so previously. Older readers will recall that, from Whitehouse South, this was a diversion that was utilised for many years by seasonal traffic to Blackpool that had originated in Scotland, the Lake District and the North East and neatly got round the problem of reversing direction in the platforms of Preston Station. Such an operating convenience did, however, sometimes cause consternation to some travellers who came to realise that they were now passing through Preston Station for a second time! LNWR 0-8-0s were, of course, a familiar sight in the Preston area for many years, even turning up occasionally at this predominantly L&Y outpost, but, by the date that this tour is taking place, all of Preston's allocation has been withdrawn from service for some time. This particular example has been loaned by Wigan Springs Branch depot, being sent to Lostock Hall depot several days prior to the tour in order to be cleaned in readiness by a small party of intending passengers.
(c) Alan Castle 22nd September 1962

pic15One of Southport's Caprotti valve geared Class 5s, No. 44745, shuts-off steam and rolls up the last few yards of the gradient into Penwortham [Cop Lane] station. The reason for the apparently over-engineered 3-arch overbridge seen in the photograph for what is merely a farm track is explained by the fact that, upon construction of the original route into Fishergate Hill station, the WLR purchased a considerable area of land immediately to the left of the train in order to provide carriage-siding accommodation to relieve the severely congested terminus. Although not used for railway purposes for many, many years, the land remained in railway ownership right up until closure in 1964. Today, of course, the bridge has gone and, in its place sprawl the expansive lanes of the Penwortham By-pass road, all traces that a railway ever ran here having been totally and very efficiently obliterated in the process.

One of the few landmarks that remain in the 21st Century to pinpoint the scene is the one-time LNWR and LYR jointly-owned Park Hotel overlooking the WLR route and the Ribble Valley. The very unique turret crowning this can just and seen in the far distance above and far beyond Penwortham Junction. The building opened at the same time as the WLR, during "Preston Guild Week" in 1882, and is a magnificent Gothic-style structure and which had close access to Preston station via its own entrance and booking office at the southern end of the old Platform 6 (now 4). It has survived, although no longer serving its original purpose, and nowadays forms part of the "East Cliff" complex of Local Government buildings that have received late twentieth century appendages nearest to the camera that, arguably, do it little justice.
(c) Alan Castle 31st August 1964

pic16Lostock Hall's long-serving Fairburn 2-6-4T No. 42286 rounds the curve between the site of the former Middleforth Junction and Penwortham Junction Ground Frame with the 18-59 Preston - Southport. The long-abandoned third side of the triangle from Middleforth Junction to Ribble Junction, originally providing direct access from the East Lancashire line to the former original West Lancs terminus at Fishergate Hill, can just be discerned in the background. By this time, for some years the trackbed, which had closed on 16th July 1900, had been occupied by a hut belonging to the Middleforth Scout Pack which can also be seen to the left of the rear coach.
9th August 1964
pic17The 18-35 Southport - Preston, headed by a bunker-first Fairburn 2-6-4T rumbles over Leyland Road Bridge, Middleforth, and slows to pass under the 6 tracks above at this point of the West Coast main line, before then taking the left-hand curve at Whitehouse West Junction and the short climb beyond into the East Lancs platforms of Preston Station.
(c) Alan Castle 17th August 1964
pic18Only one day following closure, but BR's vultures have already moved in to "recover redundant assets" and then to destroy what remains of no monetary value to them. These two enthusiasts, Chris Moss and Alan Castle, had to act quickly to prevent one of the nameboards from ending up on the bonfire. This (official) purchase was secured for the princely sum of ten shillings (50p) !
(c) Alan Castle 7th September 1964
pic19A copper oil lamp, formerly bracket-mounted to a corner of the up-side platform building at Penwortham [Cop Lane], was purchased by the photographer in 1964 .... for the princely sum of thirty shillings (£1.50)! Clearly stamped LYR, it quite possibly dates from the opening of Cop Lane Halt (as it was originally known) in 1911 and, today, still serves its original purpose (using the very same paraffin holder, stamped BR[M], and mantle), some 42 years following closure of the line - albeit now doing duty at residential premises in alien CLC/MR territory! The dramatic revolution caused by the invention of the electric light-bulb appeared to have passed-by many stations on the WLR, the buildings at Cop Lane never having been provided with any electricity supply of any form whatsoever ! Other platforms remaining illuminated to the very end by the flickering glow of the same type of original L&Y-manufacture paraffin lamps were those at Longton Bridge, Hoole and Hundred End and, at these remoter locations, once again right until the end it is likely that no electrical supply ever existed. For the record, relatively more modern technology did, however, eventually penetrate to New Longton & Hutton and Banks, where at both places, gas-lighting did come to be installed! 

Naturally, those establishments beyond Crossens, on the third-rail electrified section, came to benefit from the very latest developments in illumination by Mr Eddison. It would certainly have appeared enigmatic, if not somewhat ridiculous - what with the 'modern' electric trains passing through - had this not been the case. Nevertheless, even here were none of the fluorescent strips and sodium floodlighting later to come so commonplace as part of the corporate (and, arguably, bland) 'British Rail' image. Witness, for example, the edifice on the footbridge stairway at Crossens (my photo P643). Many such lamps may well have utilised original gas mountings and the level of illumination that they provided often proved to be of little further improvement to that which they had superseded. (See also my photo and comments regarding the paraffin-lit Penwortham) 
(c) Alan Castle

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